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Elder Flower Hydrosol

Elder Flower Hydrosol
quantity in basket: none
code: 10313


Elder Flower Hydrosol is distilled by Samara Botane from mature flowers of Sambucus nigra ssp. Cerulea alias Sambucus caerulea plants wildcrafted in Eastern Washington.
Elder Flower Hydrosol is distilled from Sambucus nigra ssp. Cerulea, a Northwest broadleaf deciduous shrub which can attain a height of 15'-30' and can grow 10' wide. Over time it forms a dense thicket with all the pithy stems that it bears. Blue elderberry prefers a sunny location along the forest edge. It thrives on moist soils, including those that flood. This species of elder, often commonly called blueberry elder or blue elder, is native to mountain areas in western North America. It is a deciduous tree or large multi-stemmed shrub which typically grows 15-30' (less frequently to 50') tall with a rounded crown. Compound pinnate, medium green leaves (5-7 leaflets each). Tiny yellowish-white flowers appear in large flattened cymes (to 8" across) in June. Flowers give way in late summer to clusters of edible, dark blue elderberry fruits. Fruits are covered with a white, waxy bloom (glaucous) as reflected by the fact that this species was formerly known as Sambucus glauca. Fruits are not palatable fresh off the plant, but can be quite tasty when cooked for use in sauces, jellies, pies and, of course, elderberry wine. Fruits are also quite attractive to wildlife. Native Americans reportedly bored out the soft pith from twigs to make flutes.

Leaves are arranged in an opposite pinnately compound fashion. Each leaf is 6 - 12" long and consists of 5 - 9 lanceolate leaflets, each of which are 2 - 6" long and less than 2" wide. The leaflets have serrated edges. They are dark green above and paler beneath.

Flowers are classified as being both monoecious (separate male and female), as well as perfect (dioecious). They have 5 yellowish white lobes but are only ¼" across. They are borne in flat-topped umbels in early summer.

Later the flowers morph to dark blue round fruit which are one quarter inch across. Berries typically have a whitish bloom covering them. While they are edible they are not considered all that desirable for fresh consumption as they are full of small seeds. They can cause nausea if eaten raw, but ripe berries are edible when cooked (best in preserves, syrups or wine).

Stems are stout, soft, and possess a spongy pith. The leaves, green fruits and stems of members of this genus are poisonous. The stems, bark, leaves and roots contain cyanide-producing glycosides, and are therefore poisonous, especially when fresh.

When black elder blooms, the flowers open over a day or two beginning in the centre of the cluster, and gradually open outwards towards the periphery. Since we want to harvest the flowers before they are fertilized, it is best to harvest clusters that still have a few unopened buds along the outer edge. This indicates the flowers haven't been open very long and few of them will have been fertilized. We harvest the entire cluster just below the point where the flower stalks begin to branch from the main stem. When we get the flower clusters home, it is best to squeeze the stalks of the cluster together starting at the base and then cut off as much of the stalk as possible without removing any of the flowers. There will still be some stalk left with the flowers, which is fine. We do this to increase the ratio of flowers to stalk in the portion that we use.

Black/Blue elder is a circumboreal species that grows throughout most of the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. There are at least three different subspecies of black elder. European black elder (Sambucus nigra ssp. Nigra) is the Eurasian subspecies. It is the one you will most likely read about in herb books. Blue elder (Sambucus nigra ssp. Cerulea) is the western North American subspecies. Canadian or American black elder (Sambucus nigra ssp. Canadensis) is the subspecies that lives in Ontario, as well as most of eastern and central North America. These distinctions are important to botanists, but from an herbalist's point of view all three subspecies have pretty much identical properties. We generally refer to all three as black elder and use whichever is native to the region in which we live.

Almost every part of this plant is used medicinally, but the flowers are the most versatile and commonly used. In southern and eastern Ontario, black elder usually flowers from late June to mid-July. This can vary a bit depending on the weather conditions from year-to-year, but generally the best time to harvest the flowers is during the first week of July. If you are harvesting the herb yourself, it is important to learn how to distinguish this species from red elder (Sambucus racemosa), which is considered to be somewhat toxic. Red elder looks similar, but tends to grow in the understory of open woodlands and flowers earlier in the spring. Its flowers grow in elongated clusters, whereas the flowers of black elder form large flat-topped clusters. By the time black elder comes into flower, red elder already has immature green berries.

Flower Constituents: Triterpenes, fixed oil containing free acids, alcanes, flavonoids

Actions: Diaphoretic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant.

Elder flowers are used for the treatment of allergies, respiratory infections and fever, and are especially effective for skin cleansing and minor skin irritation, blemishes, etc. The blossoms can be made into a tissane and stored in the refrigerator as a nice skin toner or cleanser. Black elder flower is very effective for runny nose symptoms, regardless of the cause. It can also be used for colds, influenza and sinus infections. For infectious conditions, it has the added benefit of being an excellent immune stimulant and antiviral. It is very effective for lowering fever and provides some minor benefit for coughs as well.

Elder flower has many other uses. It helps improve blood and lymphatic circulation in the extremities of the body. It also improves circulation to the brain, which aids our concentration and memory. Elder is effective for the treatment of inflammatory conditions of the urinary tract, such as cystitis. It is also mildly detoxifying. As a result, it can be used in combination with other detoxifying herbs for the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions of the skin, joints and muscles, such as acne, eczema and rheumatoid arthritis. No matter what we use it for, we will also benefit from its calming properties which help to reduce the effects of stress.

The hydrosol is made by steam distilling the blossoms in a copper still. The hydrosol can be added to the bath-water for a wonderfully refreshing bath that soothes irritable nerves and relieves itchy skin. It can be used as a skin toner after cleansing.

Elder flower is an effective herbal allergy remedy. According to researchers at the Maryland Medical Center, both elder flower and elderberry contain powerful phytonutrients, including antioxidants that reduce inflammation. Research suggests that inflammation is one trigger that can cause the body's immune system to go into overdrive, exacerbating the body's overreaction to allergens and worsening the allergy cycle. By reducing inflammation, elder flower helps to stop the body's immune response before it gets out of control. Elder flower also works as a detoxification aid, enhancing liver function and causing the body to sweat out toxins.

In Victorian times distilled Elder flower hydrosol was used as a highly valued emollient lotion, said to cleanse the skin, keeping it young and free of freckles and blemishes. Though fallen into disrespect for a number of years, Elder flower hydrosol has recently regained some popularity and is now once again produced commercially.
Keep Refrigerated.

The information provided on these pages is not a substitute for necessary medical care, nor intended as medical advice. Always keep essential oils tightly closed and in a cool, dark place, out of reach of children. Never ingest essential oils. Always dilute essential oils when applying topically and avoid areas around eyes or mucous membranes. If redness or irritation occurs, stop using immediately.